That does impress me much

Canadian music icon goes above and beyond at Bell MTS Place

Winnipeg Free Press
By Erin Lebar
May 13, 2018


Shania Twain

May 13, Bell MTS Place

Attendance: Approx. 13,000

4.5 stars out of 5

Three years ago, Shania Twain rolled through Winnipeg on her Rock This Country Tour which, she told fans, would be her last.

So it came as a bit of surprise when the Canadian music icon announced she’d be going out on a world tour in support of Now, her first full-length release in more than 15 years.

But as she entered Bell MTS Place, not on stage but wading through her fans, doling out high-fives while walking down the bowl’s stairs to the floor seats, all the while a genuine smile plastered across her face, it became very clear why she couldn’t stay away from the road.

Her stop in Winnipeg Sunday night was just the seventh show of the 77 scheduled for this tour, but already things were running like a well-oiled machine. As Twain, 52, sauntered across the stage in a sparkling black evening gown with a thigh-high slit, a curtain dropped to reveal an elaborate stage setup including several massive cubes with video screens that took several different formations throughout the night.

She kicked off the night with the lead single, Life’s About to Get Good, from her new album, and by the time she got to the second track, Come On Over, the entire floor was on its feet.

"Thank you guys for coming and spending your Mother’s Day night with me, I got a beautiful handwritten ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ card from my son, so that always brightens my day," Twain said as a crew member put her in a harness.

"Tonight just leave your worries behind, because there’s no way but up from here."

And she meant that literally — as she sang the 2002 hit Up!, one of the video cubes rose higher and higher as some choreography involving silver balloons happened below.

The theatrics continued as Twain launched into Poor Me, a newer single about her breakup with former husband and songwriting partner Robert (Mutt) Lange. As she emotionally belted the song first behind, and then in front of, a cheetah-patterned cloth, videos of contemporary dancers were projected onto it.

It may seem a bit over the top, but it was truly captivating. It would be so easy for someone with Twain’s clout to totally phone it in, but she, instead, has chosen to go above and beyond anything she’s done before.

Vocally, Twain was rock solid; from ballads to pop songs to her classic country hits, from sitting on a swing playing a guitar above the crowd to dancing and climbing up and down stairs, nothing seemed to shake her pitch-perfect performance. Her voice has changed, deepened a bit compared to her early days, but that maturity has added a beautiful round tone to her already gently raspy voice.

After a quick change into a flowy animal-print robe/dress with a bodysuit underneath, Twain returned to a knock out of a pair of tracks that included That Don’t Impress Me Much and Let’s Kiss and Make Up, which ended with an audience kiss-cam segment as Twain ducked off stage again.

Twain’s new tracks didn’t garner the same uber-enthusiastic response from fans, but they are strong additions to her set; her new music sounds fresh and modern, but isn’t a jarring digression from her catalogue of hits from nearly two decades ago. The pacing of her setlist was notably excellent, as well; she made sure to bookend her new stuff with some of her biggest hits and never allowed the energy to dip.

Twain returned in a country-inspired outfit ready to dive into some of her earliest hits, including Any Man of Mine and Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under and followed that by gliding on a seat above the crowd toward the B-stage at the back of the room during ballad Soldier. She ended the track by thanking the men and women who serve Canada in the army and chit-chatted with the crowd leading up to a sing-along of You're Still the One. It was one of many moments she took to candidly interact with the crowd — it never felt like a script.

That's the beauty of a Shania Twain show — she has found a way to be both homey and flashy, both so relatable but also very clearly a superstar.

A highlight of the night which came quite late in the show was the stunning From This Moment On. Twain, alone on stage, rolled through it with both ease and emotion.

To close out the two-hour performance, Twain saved a couple of big guns for her encore — the opening notes of Man! I Feel Like a Woman! caused the room to erupt with cheers so loud they’d rattle your core, and Rock This Country! left the crowd just where Twain found them, on their feet, roaring for more.

Swiss singer-songwriter Bastian Baker opened the night with a sweet but forgettable set. Baker, 26, who was a coach on the third season of Belgium's version of reality TV singing competition The Voice, knew his crowd, asking if there were any Jets fans in the house, and did his job as opener in amping up the audience as best as a solo folk-pop singer can. But as charming as he was, and as pleasant as his voice sounded, there was a warmth and a spark missing from his performance, especially evident as he tackled the incredibly emotional track Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.